This Week in Amateur Radio

Subscribe to This Week in Amateur Radio feed This Week in Amateur Radio
This Week in Amateur Radio: North America's Amateur Radio News Magazine. Articles on amateur radio and news stories in the media featured here.
Updated: 15 min 38 sec ago

A vast, unseen world: Amateur radio operators use old, new technology to communicate globally (Mississippi)

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 00:25
Allen McBroom stands in the backyard outside his home west of Starkville pointing up toward the sky. "You see that?" he asks. Barely perceptible against the dusk-darkened tree line stretches a 102-foot long, 14-gauge wire, narrower than a pencil. "Over the past two weeks," McBroom continues, "I've talked to people from as far away as Japan and South Africa through that antenna." This was part of what McBroom called "the 10-cent tour of a 25-cent radio station," a tour that ended in an office in the back of his house where considerably more than a quarter's worth of amateur radio equipment sat ready to use.

FCC Seeks Electronics Engineer for Dallas, Texas, Area

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 00:25
The FCC Enforcement Bureau has an opening for an electronics engineer (field agent) for the Dallas, Texas, area, that may be of interest to radio amateurs. This is a permanent, full-time job at the GS 11 – 13 level. The incumbent field agent "resolves interference, educates users and enforces regulations. An in-depth knowledge of electronic engineering is required. A full range of skills relating to inspections and monitoring is necessary," the announcement said. This individual "performs comprehensive investigations of unauthorized or unlawful radio operation and comprehensive inspections of all classes and types of installations employing RF energy," among other activities, and should have operational knowledge of technical equipment involved, such as spectrum analyzers and field strength meters. Some travel is required. The deadline to apply is April 19. See the position opening announcement for full details.

FCC Invites Comments on ARRL Technician Enhancement Proposal

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 17:25
The FCC has invited public comments on ARRL’s 2018 Petition for Rule Making, now designated as RM-11828, which asks the FCC to expand HF privileges for Technician licensees to include limited phone privileges on 75, 40, and 15 meters, plus RTTY and digital mode privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters. Interested parties have 30 days to comment. The Technician enhancement proposals stemmed from the recommendations of the ARRL Board of Directors’ Entry-Level License Committee, which explored various initiatives and gauged member opinions in 2016 and 2017. “This action will enhance the available license operating privileges in what has become the principal entry-level license class in the Amateur Service,” ARRL said in its Petition. “It will attract more newcomers to Amateur Radio, it will result in increased retention of licensees who hold Technician Class licenses, and it will provide an improved incentive for entry-level licensees to increase technical self-training and pursue higher license class achievement and development of communications skills.” Filing Comments Those interested posting brief comments on the ARRL Technician Enhancement proposal (RM-11828) using the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) should access FCC Electronic Comment Filing System Express. In the “Proceeding(s)” field, enter the number of the PRM, i.e., RM-11828 (using this format), complete all required fields, and enter comments in the box provided. You may review your post before filing. All information you provide, including name and address, will be publicly available once you post your comment(s). For more information, visit “How to Comment on FCC Proceedings.”

Survey: FT8 Growing as DX Mode in an Era of Waning Propagation

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 16:25
In the 2018 update of his survey of modes used on the air, Club Log’s Michael Wells, G7VJR, says the number of Club Log users uploading at least one FT8 contact to the site grew from 8,000 in 2017 to 14,200 in 2018. Wells worked with data from Club Log users who, he reports, uploaded 41.3 million contacts in 2018, up by 12% from last year. “I think that fact is more significant given the ongoing decline of this particular solar cycle, and it’s possible evidence of extra activity from FT8 and newly active amateurs who’d run out of steam on CW and SSB, but are back to try digital modes,” Wells said. He reports that 13,900 users uploaded at least one CW contact, and 18,000 had at least one phone contact. The total number of active users was just under 22,000 across all modes in 2018, Wells said, who added that number has been dropping each year since 2015.

Canada’s Amateur Radio Population Showing Continued Growth

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 15:25
According to Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) President Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA, Amateur Radio in Canada grew by 1,758 new licensees in 2018 — the largest number in the past 4 years. In his March editorial in RAC’s member journal The Canadian Amateur, MacDonell reported that the country’s ham radio population jumped from 63,317 to 70,198 between October 2013 and December 2018. “In each of those years, the number of new amateurs has been at least 2.5% of the total number of amateurs in Canada at the end of the previous year,” MacDonell wrote. He pointed out, however, that the 70,138 figure, while positive, hides the fact that removal of the Amateur Radio authorizations held by deceased licensees has been what he describe as “haphazard.” In addition, it’s not possible to quantify the cohort of active radio amateurs. In 2000, Canada became one of the first countries to make Amateur Radio license-exempt. Canadian radio amateurs are granted an “authorization” that’s valid for 125 years from the holder’s birth date.

via HACKADAY: The $50 Ham: Entry-Level Transceivers for Technicians

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 14:25
Last week , I covered the ridiculously low barriers to entry to amateur radio, both in terms of financial outlay and the process of studying for and passing the FCC examination. You’ve had seven days, so I assume that you’ve taken the plunge and are a freshly minted amateur radio operator. The next big question may be: Now what? We briefly mentioned the image that ham radio is a rich old person’s hobby, and that reputation is somewhat deserved. For ham gear, there really is no upper limit on what you can spend. Glossy brochures and slick web pages hawk transceiver bristling with knobs and switches and loaded with the latest features, all of which will probably be obsolete within a few years when the Next Big Thing comes along and manufacturers respond with new, must-have models – looking at you, ICOM IC-7300. It’s no different than any other technology market, and enough people fall for that marketing to make it a going concern. But thankfully, while there is no apparent ceiling on what you can spend on ham gear, there certainly is a floor, and it can be very, very low. Our $50 budget can go quite a long way to getting a new Technician on the air, if you’re willing to make some compromises and can forego the latest and greatest for a while.

via HACKADAY: The $50 Ham: Getting Your Ticket Punched

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 13:25
Today we start a new series dedicated to amateur radio for cheapskates. Ham radio has a reputation as a “rich old guy” hobby, a reputation that it probably deserves to some degree. Pick up a glossy catalog from DX Engineering or cruise their website, and you’ll see that getting into the latest and greatest gear is not an exercise for the financially challenged. And thus the image persists of the recent retiree, long past the expense and time required to raise a family and suddenly with time on his hands, gleefully adding just one more piece of expensive gear to an already well-appointed ham shack to “chew the rag” with his “OMs”. As I pointed out a few years back in “My Beef With Ham Radio”, I’m an inactive ham. My main reason for not practicing is that I’m not a fan of talking to strangers, but there’s a financial component to my reticence as well – it’s hard to spend a lot of money on gear when you don’t have a lot to talk about. I suspect that there are a lot of would-be hams out there who are turned off from the hobby by its perceived expense, and perhaps a few like me who are on the mic-shy side.

W6RO aboard the Queen Mary to Celebrate 40th Anniversary in April

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 13:25
The 50-member volunteer crew of the Queen Mary W6RO Nate Brightman Wireless Room will mount a month-long special event in April to mark the 40th anniversary of the station’s opening on the museum ship in Long Beach, California. Launched April 22, W6RO was the first of what has grown to more than 100 Amateur Radio stations based on museum ships around the world. Crew members work tirelessly to keep W6RO on the air and make as many contacts as possible during April. Station manager David Akins, N6HHR, has set a goal of 1,000 logged contacts during the 30-day event. A commemorative QSL card will be available with an SASE. Founded by Nate Brightman, K6OSC (SK), W6RO is the club station of the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach. Brightman served as station manager for 34 years until his retirement in 2013. Brightman died in 2016 at age 99.

via the ARRL: The Dave Kalter Youth DX Adventure Returning to Curacao

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 13:25
The 2019 Dave Kalter Youth DX Adventure (YDXA) will return to the PJ2T station in Curacao this summer, with Uli Thielke, DL8OBQ, hosting. The trip is set for July 14 – 19. The application for three youth and accompanying parent(s) is now open. Jim Storms, AB8YK, will serve as the team leader. “At this time there does not appear to be any issues with the situation in Venezuela,” a statement on the YDXA website said. “Curacao is over 40 miles away over open ocean to the north and has been unaffected.  We will keep an eye on the situation. ”Last summer, the YDXA team operated as PJ2Y from Curacao and logged nearly 6,300 contacts.

via the ARRL: Demand High as New ARRL Introduction to Emergency Communications Courses Open

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 13:25
The ARRL Lifelong Learning Department has launched a revised and updated Introduction to Emergency Communications (EC-001) course, and demand to sign up is prompting the recruitment of additional course mentors to expand the schedule. Registration just opened for the first of four EC-001 online sessions, which will run from Monday, April 1, until Friday, May 31. “The demand for this course has exceeded our projections, and the four sessions scheduled for 2019 are already filling quickly,” ARRL Lifelong Learning Manager Kris Bickell, K1BIC, said. “This course is designed to be interactive with mentors guiding each session, so we’re seeking additional mentors and will schedule more course sessions as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience as we expand capacity for this updated version of EC-001.” Bickell is developing a notification list (scroll down) to alert those who didn’t get into the first round of courses when a new round of sessions becomes available. The new EC-001 course has been beta-tested by course mentors and transferred into a new online learning platform. With the closing last year of the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC), EC-001 lost its virtual home and was taken offline. At that point the ARRL Emergency Preparedness and Lifelong Learning teams started exploring short- and long-term alternatives to offer the course. After careful evaluation and review, a decision was made to move the course to a more modern learning management system called Canvas, which will be used while the new Lifelong Learning Initiative program is under development. EC-001 will eventually become a part of a comprehensive online learning environment.

Highest-Ever Summits on the Air Activation Reported

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:25
Tom Rudzinski, SQ9FVE, made Summits on the Air (SOTA) history on February 16 by activating Aconcagua in Mendoza, Argentina. At 6,962 meters (22,841 feet) above sea level, the mountain is the highest peak in both the Southern and Western hemispheres. An experienced and skilled mountaineer, Rudzinski planned the expedition carefully, including all necessary support. He began his ascent to the summit nearly 2 weeks ahead of his activation, setting up camps and acclimatizing to the elevation en route. He managed five contacts on 2-meter FM, working Argentinian chasers some 90 kilometers (56 miles) away. Rudzinski worked with a group of friends from the Cuyo Radio Club (LU1MA) to activate Aconcagua.

Technical Paper Raises Visibility of Wireless Power Transmission Interference Potential

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:25
In what may be a first in the effort to crack down on unlicensed broadcasters, the United States has filed a civil action to stop a church-related pirate radio station from operating in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts US Attorney's Office is seeking an injunction to shut down the station, operating on 97.1 MHz. "This groundbreaking step, for an injunction to stop a pirate radio operator's illegal activities, is part of our continued efforts to combat illegal broadcasting," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said this week. "As we work with our law enforcement colleagues to use every tool in our toolbox to combat pirate radio, I welcome the Justice Department's renewed use of its Section 401(a) injunction authority. Along with fines, equipment seizures, and warnings, this action underlines our continued interest in combatting this serious problem." The FCC already has fined operator Vasco Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church $15,000 for repeated violations of its rules against unlicensed operation. The complaint recounts that Oburoni and the church first began operating an unlicensed station in Worcester on 102.3 MHz. After issuing multiple warnings, the FCC levied the $15,000 penalty, and Oburoni agreed to a payment plan. But later, he began broadcasting again, this time on 97.1 MHz. At least one licensed broadcaster has complained to the FCC, citing interference concerns.

FCC Takes a New Tack in Combatting Unlicensed Radio Broadcasting

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:25
In what may be a first in the effort to crack down on unlicensed broadcasters, the United States has filed a civil action to stop a church-related pirate radio station from operating in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts US Attorney's Office is seeking an injunction to shut down the station, operating on 97.1 MHz. "This groundbreaking step, for an injunction to stop a pirate radio operator's illegal activities, is part of our continued efforts to combat illegal broadcasting," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Harold said this week. "As we work with our law enforcement colleagues to use every tool in our toolbox to combat pirate radio, I welcome the Justice Department's renewed use of its Section 401(a) injunction authority. Along with fines, equipment seizures, and warnings, this action underlines our continued interest in combatting this serious problem." The FCC already has fined operator Vasco Oburoni and Christian Praise International Church $15,000 for repeated violations of its rules against unlicensed operation. The complaint recounts that Oburoni and the church first began operating an unlicensed station in Worcester on 102.3 MHz. After issuing multiple warnings, the FCC levied the $15,000 penalty, and Oburoni agreed to a payment plan. But later, he began broadcasting again, this time on 97.1 MHz. At least one licensed broadcaster has complained to the FCC, citing interference concerns.

via the ARRL: German Radio Amateur Successfully Sends 2.5 mW OPERA Signal via Es'hail-2

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:25
Markus Vester, DF6NM, recently used the digital mode OPERA to send a 2.5 mW signal through the 2.4 – 10 GHz transponder of the Es'hail-2 (QO-100) geostationary satellite. OPERA is a "slow" digital mode for very weak signal work that enables the exchange of call signs and signal reports. According to a post on the Digital Radio Groups reflector, Vester started out at 250 mW of OPERA on 2.4 GHz into a 60-centimeter dish. The downlink signal was received via the AMSAT-UK and BATC 10 GHz WebSDR in Cornwall by Peter Knol, PA1SDB. Vester then reduced power to just 2.5 mW, and the signal was still readable. OPERA was developed by EA5HVK. Elsewhere, the advent of QO-100 invigorated sales of the MiniTiouner-Express DATV receiver/analyzer for DVB-S/DVB-S2 to the point of exhausting current inventory, according to Hamvention® ATV Forum moderator Art Towslee, WA8RMC. It's anticipated that MiniTiouner-Express units will be available for shipment again sometime in April. Charles Brain, G4GUO, reports many successful DATV contacts via QO-100. He can hit the satellite with just 10 W into a 1.8-meter dish and said, "Every evening, OSCAR-100 is very, very busy."

via the ARRL: Amateur Radio Volunteers Activate Following California Flooding

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:25
Amateur Radio volunteers with the Sonoma County, California, Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) rallied to assist in February after heavy rain led to flooding in the region. San Francisco Section Manager Bill Hillendahl, KH6GJV, told ARRL that while no actual communication emergencies occurred during the weather event, Sonoma County ACS volunteers provided "needed eyes" and were available in case further assistance was needed. Sonoma County ACS Radio Officer Dan Ethen, WA6CRB, said heavy rainfall on fire-scarred areas resulted in flooding along the Russian River. "During February, the Sonoma County Auxiliary Communications Service activated, providing communication services to the Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services Department," Ethen reported. "On February 13 and 14, ACS volunteers staffed the Sonoma County Operational Area Emergency Operation Center. Mobile ACS Field Units were assigned to patrol the burn-scar areas that were a result of the Complex Fire Storm in October of 2017."

via the ARRL: WWV Centennial Special Event Will Use WW0WWV

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
With its funding secure for another year, WWV, the world’s oldest continuously operating radio station, will have extra reason to celebrate its centennial this fall. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (NCARC) have teamed up to organize 100th anniversary events. A memorandum of understanding is pending. The WWV Committee has announced that the call sign WW0WWV was granted on February 23 to the WWV Amateur Radio Club for use during the Amateur Radio special event, planned to run September 28 – October 2, with operators on the air — no pun intended — around the clock. NCARC predicts the effort will require “hundreds” of volunteer operators. “The 100th anniversary is an occasion to celebrate radio and our understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum, and an opportunity to help people everywhere appreciate what radio does in their everyday lives,” said Dave Swartz, WODAS, who has been spearheading the on-the-air event. The WWV Committee met on February 22, with representatives of NCARC and NIST on hand, to further firm up plans for the centennial celebratory events. Although the US government cannot fund any Amateur Radio special event expenses, club members will be allowed to use a 15-acre parcel on WWV property, Swartz has explained. The operating site lies outside the security fence. For its part, NIST will focus on plans for an October 1 recognition ceremony and an open house at the radio station north of Fort Collins.

via HACKADAY: Justin McAllister’s Simple, Post-Apocalypse-Friendly Antennas

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
Watch Justin McAllister’s presentation on simple antennas suitable for a zombie apocalypse and two things will happen: you’ll be reminded that everything antennas do is amazing, and their reputation for being a black magic art will fade dramatically. Justin really knows his stuff; there is no dangle-a-wire-and-hope-for-the-best in his examples. He demonstrates that it’s possible to communicate over remarkable distances with nothing more than an off-the-shelf radio, battery pack, and an antenna of simple design. What’s great is that his talk presents information in a hacker-friendly way. Justin knows perfectly well that hackers will go out and dig up information on whatever interests them all on their own, so he focuses on showing what’s possible, what’s out there, and what stuff is called so the audience understands what to look for when they seek out more detail. After all, it can be hard to research something when one doesn’t know the right terms, or lacks an overall understanding.

ARRL Leonard Award Presented Live on The Weather Channel

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
ARRL Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, traveled to Atlanta on February 15 to make a live, on-air presentation of the 2017 ARRL Bill Leonard W2SKE Professional Media Award for Video Reporting to The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and Jen Carfagno. Cantore and Cafagno co-host The Weather Channel’s morning AMHQ: America’s Morning Headquarters program. The 2017 Leonard award recognized the AMHQ co-hosts’ September 2017 interview of then-ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U. Corey discussed ARRL’s efforts to assist the American Red Cross in the response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The February 15 presentation included a clip of the Corey interview as well as an interview with Sarratt. He presented AMHQ co-hosts with a $250 check as part of the award, which The Weather Channel will donate to the American Red Cross. “I enjoyed my visit to The Weather Channel, making the presentation, and meeting many friendly people there,” Sarratt said. “Before the presentation, I was given a quick tour of the studio and, after the presentation, I was given detailed tour of the control room and learned how the shows are put together and produced.” It’s estimated that nearly a 250,000 people were watching The Weather Channel at the time of the presentation.

via the ARRL: St. Patrick’s Day Special Event Offering New Award this Year

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
Stations around the world will once again be on air to turn the bands green as part of the St. Patrick’s Day Award. The 48-hour annual event will run from 1200 UTC on March 16 until 1200 UTC on March 18. A new award will be available to those operating modes requiring software or a computer. To register as a station or to learn more, visit the St. Patrick’s Day Award website. — Thanks to Bobby Wadey, MI0RYL

via the ARRL: V84SAA DXpedition is Front-Page News in Brunei

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:25
The V84SAA DXpedition February 6 – 18 received a great deal of positive attention in Brunei — a tiny nation surrounded by Malaysia on the South China Sea. The arrival of the DXpedition team not only merited coverage on the local evening newscast, but a front-page newspaper article. According to the article, the DXpedition aimed “to increase cooperation among [Amateur Radio operators] besides instilling the spirit of teamwork and fostering close ties. The expedition also serves to help promote the country’s uniqueness and natural heritage through Amateur Radio,” the article said. “So yes, this was a pretty big deal over there!” V84SAA team member Jeff Briggs, K1ZM/VY2ZM told ARRL. In a narrative he provided to The Daily DX, Briggs explained how the SSB and CW teams operated from sites about 20 minutes apart. “The SSB camp was from a rented villa on a small hilltop inland a bit, and the CW camp was in a tent right on the beach — with all our CW antennas right on the beach,” Briggs said. “Most of the operators at the SSB villa stayed and ate their meals at that location. Our beach site had very different and Spartan facilities; there we usually lunched on vanilla cookies and water.”

Pages